Scientific name: Coriaria arborea
English name: Tree tutu
- native to the Wellington Region
Suits: damp, dry, shade, partial shade, sunny, shelter, coastal forest garden, wetlands and water features
Tutu is a many-stemmed shrub or small tree where all parts of the plant, with the exception of their purple petals are highly poisonous to mammals! It is a great coloniser, but however needs some shelter to begin with. Often found on open sites, river banks, slips and forest margins.
Large glossy leaves, 50-80mm long in pairs on soft four-angled branches. Spikes of small flowers in clusters up to 30 cm hangs from the branches in spring and early summer. The flowers are followed by small shiny and fleshy purple-black fruits, that is very popular with native birds. These ripens from late November through to early April.
Warning! All parts of all eight tutu species are poisonous except the succulent black, soft fleshy petals surrounding the seeds (the seeds themselves are also poisonous). Poisoning is usually through eating the seeds, berries or poisonous honey. Tutin acts on the central nervous system leading to symptoms of nausea, vomiting, burred vision, weakness and seizures or convulsions and can lead to a comatose state. Breathing is usually affected, so too is memory. Toxic honey is contaminated as a result of bees visiting tutu (Coriaria arborea) with honey dew being excreted onto the leaves of the plant by the tiny toxic sap sucking passion vine hopper (Scolypopa australis) and then bees gathering the honeydew.
Tutin, and its derivative, hyenanchin are extremely toxic to humans, yet this is a very interesting plant with a lot of benefits for native wildlife.
Provides for birds